Schwarz T, Kelley C, Pinkerton ME, et al.
Respiratory diseases are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in captivity reared, endangered whooping cranes (Grus americana). Objectives of this retrospective, case series, cross-sectional study were to describe computed tomography (CT) respiratory anatomy in a juvenile whooping crane without respiratory disease, compare CT characteristics with gross pathologic characteristics in a group of juvenile whooping cranes with respiratory aspergillosis, and test associations between the number of CT tracheal bends and bird sex and age. A total of 10 juvenile whooping cranes (one control, nine affected) were included. Seven affected cranes had CT characteristics of unilateral extrapulmonary bronchial occlusion or wall thickening, and seven cranes had luminal occlusion of the intrapulmonary primary or secondary bronchi. Air sac membrane thickening was observed in three cranes in the cranial and caudal thoracic air sacs, and air sac diverticulum opacification was observed in four cranes. Necropsy lesions consisted of severe, subacute to chronic, focally extensive granulomatous pathology of the trachea, primary bronchi, lungs, or air sacs. No false positive CT scan results were documented. Seven instances of false negative CT scan results occurred; six of these consisted of subtle, mild air sacculitis including membrane opacification or thickening, or the presence of small plaques found at necropsy. The number of CT tracheal bends was associated with bird age but not sex. Findings supported the use of CT as a diagnostic test for avian species with respiratory disease and tracheal coiling or elongated tracheae where endoscopic evaluation is impractical.